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Cal Fire Zone map for SCCCal Fire released its updated fire zone map on April 1st. Some of our real estate disclosure paperwork will be changing on account of this.

How is the new fire zone map different?

The new version of the fire zone map shows that some areas previously under the state’s responsibility are now a local responsibility (areas with striped colors).

In town, we focus more on the local responsibility area (LRA) zones, and can be found at this link, which provides a statewide view as the starting point. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, more of it will be state areas. Part of California also has federal responsibilities areas, but not here – you can view those if you navigate over to the Sierra Nevada range on the east side of California.

If you zoom in several times, you can navigate to our local market area and will see an image similar to the one below I have added 3 street names for better context. The old link for the fire zone maps no longer works – so save this new one to your bookmarks, especially if you are house hunting.

 

Cal Fire Zone Map - Local Responsibility Area in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga as of April 1 2024

 

There are several categories for these zones. I’ve placed the key for most of them in the image above.

In the local responsibility area (LRA)

  • Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHZ)  – in the image above that is the dark red area.
  • High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (HFHSZ) – orange striped area – this was reclassified from state to local responsibility with the new map.

In the state responsibility area (SRA)

  • Another VHFHZ, but in the state responsibility area (SRA) – pink in the image above.
  • High Fire Hazard Severity Zone in the state area – yellow in the map shown above.

More local input on fire zones

There are other things happening with the areas with more fire risk, too. Some cities and towns may be extending the areas of concern. Cal fire has “recommended” areas of local responsibility, and apparently local jurisdictions can weigh in on it.

Adjust the transparency for the fire zone map

By the way, when using the link, a viewer can adjust the transparency level. This can make both street names and individual parcels more visible. Here’s how to do it:

  1. On the right side of the map, there’s a key and under it are the words Legend and Map Layers. Click on Legend.
  2. A picklist will appear below Legend. Choose one, such as Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
  3. Click on the 3 dots to the right of the selection.
  4. There are now two choices:  increase transparency or decrease transparency. Click on whichever one you want.

Additionally, if a viewer zooms in quite far, individual building numbers will appear, too.

Here’s a subset of the Cal Fire Zone Map with increased transparency and zoomed way down. (Click the image below to see a larger version.)

 

Cal Fire Zone Map - VHFHSZ near Main and Bayview in Los Gatos

Insurance companies use their own maps

Additionally, each insurance company has its own maps and assessment of risk. These are NOT published.

My own insurance agent let me know that being within 1,000 feet of an area with increased risk (such as the VHFHSZ) may make it uninsurable  with top tier insurance companies and their policies.  It is wise if you are considering a home purchase to call your insurance agent about any insurability or pricing of insurance questions. Insurance is more scarce and more pricey than it was 5 years ago.

 

 

Related reading

Interactive map to view risk of flooding from dam failure in Los Gatos (this site)

Defensible space for fire resistance (this site)

Silicon Valley Liquefaction Zones (our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

Is your home safe in an earthquake? (our relo site, Move2SiliconValley)

Is there a radon risk in Silicon Valley homes? (our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)